I wonder if Obama is now wishing he'd not resigned his senate seat so quickly. All this mess would not be happening now if he had not been so hasty in doing so. Of course, he didn't know it would occur at the time.
January 7, 2009
Burris Is Blocked From Taking Illinois Senate Seat
By CARL HULSE and DAVID STOUT
WASHINGTON " Roland W. Burris, the would-be junior senator from Illinois, arrived at the Capitol on Tuesday morning for the start of the 111th Congress and was greeted like a celebrity, even though he remains a private citizen, at least for the moment.
Mr. Burris, who shortly before his arrival had insisted he was “certainly not looking for drama,” found himself caught up in a comedy of sorts. Looking unsettled and with rain glistening on his topcoat, he entered the building to encounter a mob of reporters and photographers.
Capitol police officers tried to clear a path for Mr. Burris. “You can’t keep a regular citizen from walking into the Capitol,” one officer shouted.
Somehow, Citizen Burris made his way to the office of Nancy Erickson, the secretary of the Senate, to whom he presented his credentials, only to have her reject them. Afterward, the aspiring legislator stood in the rain outside and declared, “Members of the media, my name is Roland Burris, the junior senator from the State of Illinois.”
Not yet, he isn’t. The problem for Mr. Burris, of course, is that he was named to the seat by the embattled Illinois governor, Rod R. Blagojevich. Ms. Erickson had already said that the appointment letter forwarded by the governor’s office did not comply with Rule II of the Senate’s standing rules, which requires signatures of both the governor and the secretary of state.
The Illinois secretary of state, Jesse White, has refused to sign, saying the appointment is invalid because of a federal corruption investigation surrounding the governor and what prosecutors describe as his efforts to sell the Senate seat, vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
“Roland Burris is welcome to Washington; he is welcome to come to my office,” Illinois’s senior senator, Richard J. Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, said on Monday. “But he couldn’t possibly be anticipating any official action until at least his papers are filed.”
After the mob scene at the Capitol on Tuesday morning, Mr. Burris and his lawyers held a brief news conference. One lawyer, Timothy W. Wright III, complained that it was “against the law of the land” to block Mr. Burris from taking his seat.
Mr. Wright vowed to do whatever necessary to “resolve this impasse and move forward on behalf of the people.” The lawyer said Mr. Burris would continue to confer with the Senate leadership and might go to court if the talks are unsuccessful.
If the Illinois Senate seat is contested in court, the issues could be serious indeed. The Constitution gives each chamber of Congress the power to judge the qualifications of its members. On the other hand, the Supreme Court has ruled that the lawmakers cannot arbitrarily add membership requirements that are not spelled out in the Constitution.
And if the appointment of Mr. Burris is tainted by Mr. Blagojevich’s situation, as some have argued, it must be noted that the governor has only been accused of crimes, but neither indicted nor convicted.
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